One of my favorite things about WordPress is how extendable it is. As I’m writing, there are currently 43,739 plugins available in the official directory, and, if you can’t find what you’re looking for there, you can always make it yourself. So, what plugins do we think are must-haves? Here’s our pick of 10 of them.
No self-hosted WordPress installation is complete without Jetpack, which brings all sorts of WordPress.com features to your personal blog or company website. You can build custom contact forms, display your portfolio, keep track of site’s stats, and automatically connect to the most popular social media sites. And that’s just a few of the 35 or so features Jetpack has to offer.
All In One SEO Pack
When they say ‘All In One,’ they really mean it. AIOSEOP is the Swiss Army Knife of SEO plugins, and allows you to manage individual posts, pages, and even custom post types. It also lets you verify your site with Google’s Webmaster Tools and Bing’s Webmaster Central, add the Google Analytics code to your header, and even build XML sitemaps for submission to search engines.
So, if you feel confused by all of the options the All In One SEO Pack has to offer, then Yoast SEO is the plugin for you. While the first focuses on those who already have a good grasp of Search Engine Optimization, Yoast is much more friendly to those still learning about SEO, and includes a powerful page analysis tool to help you write better content, and make your site more friendly to search engines.
It isn’t a secret that WordPress is frequently targeted by people wanting to do bad things; that’s what happens when you’re the most widely used content management system. While there are many security plugins out there, Wordfence is our choice, because it’s powerful and, once configured, will take care of most issues before you even get the chance to check on them.
There are almost as many backup plugins as there are opinions on which WordPress backup plugin is the best. Our choice is BackWPUp, because it’s easy to configure (even for those not that technically inclined), and can store your backups on remote FTP servers, Dropbox, have them sent to you via email, and many more.
Another great plugin by the folks that brought you WordPress in the first place. Akismet helps keep your blog spam free by running any new comments through their servers, and automatically marking the spammy ones as spam. It requires an API key, but for personal blogs, it’s free, provided you have fewer than 50,000 comment attempts a month. For a professional account, the cost starts at just $5.
WP Super Cache
One of the drawbacks of using WordPress is that serving the complicated PHP files takes more time (and more server resources) than a static HTML file. WP Super Cache takes some load off of your server by building a static HTML file for the dynamic PHP pages. Once a period of time of your choosing passes, the static page will be dropped and refreshed. It’s a good compromise between static and dynamic.
It happens to the best of databases: over time, they gather extra lines of information that will never be useful again, causing them to slow down bit by bit. WP-Optimize takes that less-than-perfect database and cleans it back up again, improving performance, reducing space, and keeping WordPress generally happy.
Safe Redirect Manager
Posts and pages sometimes come and go, leaving search engines guessing as to where to go when it can’t find something. Safe Redirect Manager gives them a bit of direction, in case you move, or completely remove, anything from your website.
OK, WordPress Importer isn’t something we keep installed on all of our WordPress sites, but it’s one of those that, when you need it, you really need it. It allows you to take a WordPress export file, and pull all of the posts, pages, categories, tags, and media files (or basically anything you need) into a new WordPress installation. Great for when you need a sandbox to test out theme or plugin development.
Well, there you have it: our 10 must-have WordPress plugins. What plugins do you find the most useful?